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Ferrisburgh selectman tenders resignation, but doesn’t leave

FERRISBURGH — Longtime Ferrisburgh Selectman Jim Warden as he promised before Town Meeting Day offered to resign at last week’s board meeting. But after a tie vote on whether to accept his letter of resignation, Warden remains on the board.
Warden said while running for office that he would step down if his wife, Gloria Warden, won one of her write-in races to be Ferrisburgh’s town clerk or treasurer. Gloria Warden also said during what proved to be a successful campaign for the clerk’s job that her husband would leave the selectboard.
But on March 18, board members Loretta Lawrence and Sally Torrey voted to honor Jim Warden’s letter of resignation, while board members Jim Benoit and Steve Gutowski declined to accept it.
The 2-2 tally, with Warden recusing himself, meant the motion to accept the letter failed.
Lawrence, who the board re-elected as its chairwoman, said Warden could have forced the issue and decided to leave regardless of the vote outcome.
“He decided to stay on,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence said she had mixed feelings about the March 18 outcome.
“He’s a great board member,” Lawrence said. “We’re thrilled to keep him, but it’s an unusual situation.”
The campaign pledge to step down is “a fair question” for the town, she said.
“I guess for transparency and clarity, we thought that was the right thing to do,” Lawrence said.
However, given Warden’s long service she said maybe residents’ reaction will be the deciding factor in the long run.
“Ultimately, Jim will have to deal with the public’s questions,” Lawrence said. “We’ll have to see how it plays out.”
Warden said, however, public input — plus what he called the strong support of Gutowski and Benoit — played a role in his decision to stay on after he went to the meeting with every intent of resigning. 
“There were a whole raft of people in the audience who were there for me,” Warden said.
He said after the 2-2 vote he still thought he was off the board, but the board members who voted for him corrected him.
“At that point I walked away from the table. They said get back here and said we need you,” Warden said. “That was it. I accepted it.”
He said with big projects like the new town highway shed on the horizon he was glad to remain on the board after years of service.
“I’ve been a major part of the selectboard,” he said. “It made me feel very good.”
The board also elected Gutowski as its vice chairman and Torrey as its clerk and made several appointments, including returning Gail Blasius and Arabella Holzapfel to the planning commission and naming Bessie Sessions as town agent.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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